ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday refused to condemn Saudi Arabia for its execution of 47 convicts including a prominent Shia cleric, saying it was an “internal legal matter” of the kingdom.
“The executions in Saudi Arabia are an internal legal matter. Whether you approve or not of the decision is a separate issue,” Erdogan, who last month visited Riyadh in a new sign of Ankara’s warm ties with the kingdom, said in a televised speech in his first reaction to the controversy.
Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed 47 people, most of whom were convicted of Al Qaeda attacks. Four of those executed were Shias, including prominent cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards had promised “harsh revenge” against the Saudi royal dynasty for Saturday’s execution of Nimr who is considered a terrorist by Riyadh but hailed in Iran as a champion of the rights of Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority.
The Guards compared Saudi Arabia’s execution of Nimr to attacks carried out by the militant Islamic State group and said that Saudi Arabia’s “medieval act of savagery” in putting Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr to death will lead to the “downfall” of the monarchy.
Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran the other day and Iran’s top leader predicted “divine vengeance” for Saudi Arabia’s execution of the cleric.
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